Visiting Austerfield, Doncaster

Austerfield is a small village in the metropolitan borough of Doncaster. St Helena's Church, the Austerfield Field Study Centre and the Butten Meadow plaque commemorate the connections to the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Nearby, at the point where the Gainsborough Road met the Great North Road, lies the market town of Bawtry.  This pretty and historic town has places to stay, shops and eateries.

The larger town of Doncaster is renowned for its horse racing, rich railway heritage and its wealth of Georgian and Regency architecture on the Great North Road.

Doncaster is the town and the borough in which Austerfield is located, founded by the Romans who left behind many artefacts that can be seen in Doncaster Museum.

This was just the start of our story of 2,000 years of history that took us through the time of Kings and Castles, to the time of the Mayflower Pilgrims, Horse racing in the 1700 and the start of the world’s oldest classic horserace the St Leger in 1776.

The Industrial Revolution brought the railways with the Flying Scotsman and Mallard the fastest steam engine ever, built here in Doncaster. The wealth of the time created stately homes and a Georgian Mansion House, one of only three in the country, an asset we’re extremely proud of today, located in the heart of our urban centre.

Time and Doncaster move together and now we have Polar Bears, Lions and Tigers at the UK’s number one walk through safari park, the fastest growing airport in the UK, a range of visitor attractions offering a variety of experiences and a great variety of accommodation to suit all tastes.

Doncaster is an exciting town that thinks like a city and it’s continuing to transform itself into a vibrant place to live, stay and play. You’ll always be guaranteed a friendly Yorkshire welcome but if you’re looking for access to London and other major cities we’ve also got fast rail connections and fantastic motorway links due to our superb central location.

Austerfield and the Mayflower story

William Bradford of Austerfield, near Doncaster, became the second elected Governor of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1621. He continued to serve the Colony for almost 30 years.

Bradford was baptized St Helena's church where the original font can be seen today. Heavily influenced by leading Pilgrim William Brewster, he was a sickly young orphan when they first met, but grew into a passionate religious radical, escaping to Holland with the Brewster family at the age of 18.

After travelling to America, Bradford was a signatory of the historic Mayflower Compact, and bequeathed much of our knowledge about their momentous journey and early years of the Colony in his journal, 'Of Plimoth Plantation'.  

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Austerfield's Mayflower programme

Supported by a £500,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund, partners from across Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire came together to develop an exceptional programme of heritage activity commemorating the birthplace of the Separatists and the stories that inspired their journey to America. More than 100 activities were planned in the build-up to and through 2020 and 2021. Alongside the PilgrimAGE 2020 festival, highlights included:

  • The region’s existing self-drive Mayflower Trail was renamed the Pilgrims Trail, and received significant investment to increase its scale and content, including digital resources. The trail was enhanced by a range of activities targeting visitors and residents, providing unique experiences that engaged people with the local landscape and heritage

  • A new Pilgrims Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum opened in May 2019. This tells the story of the Pilgrims in North Nottinghamshire, addressing core themes of tolerance, freedom and migration while also acting as the focal point for the Pilgrims Trail

  • A series of high-profile exhibitions took place across the Roots region, including a new permanent installation in Gainsborough Old Hall and multiple shows across Doncaster’s Heritage Festival

  • Imagination Museum Mayflower 400 by Katie Green used the medium of dance to interpret the Pilgrims' story and engage young people, with performances based at non-traditional dance spaces such as museums and exhibitions

  • A brilliantly diverse cultural programme, with activity ranging across performance, photography, health and well-being, digital, writing, schools engagement and more. This was developed in partnership with local communities and organisations such as Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and the Percy Laws Gallery, ensuring that content was accessible, authentic and carry real resonance for visitors and residents

Austerfield, Doncaster Highlights

  • Attractions
  • Accommodation
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